The Black Mass at Harvard Was Cancelled at the Last Minute

Opposition from the Catholic church and the lack of a venue kept students from having the gathering.
Photo Courtesy of George Martell/The Pilot Media Group

Photo Courtesy of George Martell/The Pilot Media Group

After intense scrutiny from top religious leaders, Harvard administrators, and their fellow classmates—not to mention lack of a proper venue—the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club backed down from hosting a controversial reenactment and demonstration of a Satanic “Black Mass.”

The decision to pull the plug on the ritual, which group members said was intended to add historical context to an ongoing series of educational discussions and lectures about world religions, came after days of public backlash leading up to the planned event.

In a statement Monday evening, just hours before group members were scheduled to meet a New York-based satanic organization, the Satanic Cult, the club said the Black Mass was postponed indefinitely.

The group had originally decided to move the ritual off campus, away from Harvard’s Queen’s Head Pub in Memorial Hall, due to increasing complaints coming in from every corner of the community, including strong words opposing the ceremony from the Archdiocese of Boston and Harvard president Drew Faust.

At no point did administrators tell students to call off the ritual, citing the club’s rights to free speech and assembly, however, Faust did call the plan “abhorrent” and “deeply regrettable.”

At first, reports indicated that the Black Mass was being relocated to the Middle East in Cambridge, but a manager there later refuted the rumors, leaving the Cultural Studies Club without a venue once again. That eventually lead them to the decision to disassociate themselves from the event altogether. “The Harvard Extension School is grateful the student group has recognized the strong concerns expressed by members of the Harvard community and beyond,” said Robert Neugeboren, dean of students and alumni affairs at Harvard Extension School.

But a less-public version of the Black Mass was still reportedly held at the Hong Kong bar just steps away from Harvard’s main campus area, according to group members from the Satanic Cult. “Social Media indicated that an upset mob of Satanists were gathering at Harvard Station to protest the Black Mass cancellation. I went and addressed them. Somebody from that crowd then somehow managed to secure the upstairs of the Hong Kong, and the Black Mass was performed there before a crowd of about 150,” said Lucien Greaves, spokesperson for the Satanic Cult.

Greaves told Boston that even though they made it clear that they weren’t using “mystical magical blessed bread” in their performance, the group didn’t want to adhere to all of the demands to rearrange what happens during a ritual. “I couldn’t agree to change our presentation so significantly merely to coddle the most infantile of superstitions. It would be healthy, I thought, if our medieval-minded friends could see that the world would continue pretty much as before, even after such an unholy event,” Greaves said.

When asked what happened during the ritual at the Hong Kong, Greaves would not provide a straight-forward response, and instead described the ritual in this way:

First, we take a piece of magical bread, which is really the flesh of Christ from which we summon his full personage. Then we mock him mercilessly and tell him that he’s out of fashion and we hate his taste in music. After he feels sufficiently bullied and left out, some representatives from the homosexual agenda rub their gay all over a Bible thereby causing God to weep. This is when Satan appears, and everybody plays spin the bottle. Ultimately, we’re all struck by lightening and the ground opens beneath our feet, swallowing us whole. Our script was mostly based off the one reported by the 19th century author Huysmans, in his novel La-Bas. Some imagery was pulled from standard reported elements of the Witches Sabbath.

While Satanic revelers had their meet-up in some form, members of the Catholic congregation gathered in the hundreds for a Eucharistic procession from the Catholic chapel at MIT, followed by a Holy Hour of Adoration and Benediction at St. Paul Parish, the home parish of the Harvard Catholic Student Association.

According to organizers, the Holy Hour was scheduled in direct response to the planned Satanic Black Mass, and was a success. “The procession which passed MIT and Central Square was a sight to behold. People were coming out of restaurants—some kneeling on the sidewalks, others blessing themselves, and some just staring in bewilderment,” said Fr. David Barnes, director of the Catholic Center at Boston University and the Catholic Campus Minister, who attended the event. “I spent several hours with Catholics from all over the Archdiocese of Boston—young and old, students, married people, priests, seminarians, religious men and women, lay people—who all love the Eucharist. That’s what being a Catholic is. I’m grateful to have experienced their powerful witness.”


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com